Bahrain probe commission hits out at media rumours

August 23, 2011

The international commission investigating the incidents and human rights abuses in Bahrain has once more denied media claims that its chairman or one of its members has resigned.

“The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) denies the report being circulated on some electronic social media platforms that its Chairperson or any of its members have resigned their positions,” the commission said in a statement.

“All the members of the commission continue to discharge their duties. The commissioners are studying and analyzing the increasingly large amounts of evidence being gathered by its investigators for the preparation of BICI’s final report due on October 30,” it said.

The commission said that it has been following the information being circulated about its work and the statements attributed to its chairperson Professor M. Cherif Bassiouni in the local Bahraini and international press. The five-member commission was set up in June by King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa to investigate the incidents that have hit the country since February.

Last week, it shut down its office for three days after it was stormed by hundreds of people who were apparently upset over remarks attributed to Bassiouni.

The verbal and physical aggression, reportedly fuelled by online forums and occurring after allegations that at least one member of the probing team had resigned, was rejected by several Bahraini groups while the commission said that it would not bow to pressure tactics and pledged to continue its investigation.

Fresh rumours about the resignation of Bassiouni have now surfaced, prompting the commission to issue the new statement on Saturday.

“In accordance with its mandate, the BICI since its establishment has been making every effort to investigate complaints in connection with the disturbances that occurred in Bahrain in February and March 2011 and in that regard to collect evidence and testimonies. The BICI investigators have conducted numerous field visits and interviews to collect information from a variety of sources. These have included visits to six police stations and detention facilities, and visits to six hospitals. The BICI investigators conducted over 250 personal interviews with citizens during these field visits,” the commission said.

“In addition, staff members have met over 670 persons at the BICI Headquarters in Manama to record their testimony about the events of February/March 2011. Moreover, the BICI has received over 2500 communications and complaints via email, regular mail, and recorded videos pertaining to the time period under investigation. Staff members have also met families of persons who were killed during the confrontations and demonstrations that occurred in Bahrain to record their testimonies.”

The commission has also received communications from and held meetings with representatives of workers unions, students dismissed from university, civil society organizations, and political activists, as well as with officials from the various government agencies, it said.

BICI said that it remained committed to collecting evidence from the broadest possible sources and that it could continue to welcome information from all persons in Bahrain and that it remained open to schedule personal meetings with individuals to record their testimony about the events of February and March.

“The chairperson of BICI wishes to clarify that, contrary to information relayed by some news media outlets, he did not issue any statements on the outcome of the commission’s investigations. The chairperson’s recent interview with a Bahraini local newspaper was misrepresented.

“Professor Bassiouni’s comments were limited to clarifying the differences between various categories of crimes and violations of international law. Nothing in the chairperson’s comments prejudices the work of the commission or its investigations. The findings and conclusions reached by BICI will appear in its final report,” the statement said.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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